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Can You Use Bleach On Hardwood Floors? Effects & Alternatives

hardwood floors

You may be wondering whether it is possible to use bleach on hardwood floors, and the answer is a bit complex. Using bleach on hardwood floors is possible, but not safe or advisable. Bleach is a substance used for sanitizing toilets and removing stains; it is very powerful and strong and can even be harmful at times. While bleach is frequently used for sanitizing your home, using bleach on hardwood floors is an entirely different scenario. Bleach can damage your hardwood floors beyond repair, so if you decide to deep clean your floors with this chemical, make sure to do it safely.

In the article below, we will explain why using bleach on hardwood floors is not the best solution. We will also include additional information on ways you can deep clean while ensuring your safety and the safety of those around you.

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Can You Use Bleach To Clean Hardwood Floors?

Bleach is a very powerful and sometimes harmful chemical that people often use to remove stains and disinfect household surfaces. While bleach is an excellent solution for sanitizing ceramic tiles, vinyl, and linoleum, it does not work well on porous surfaces like wood. The only way you could use bleach with maximum safety to clean your floors would be to dilute bleach by mixing a solution of ¾ cup bleach and 1 gallon of water. If you want to try using bleach on your hardwood floors, do it once and test a section of the floor to see if it will do any damage.

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Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Is It Safe To Clean Hardwood Floors With Bleach?

While you could disinfect your hardwood floors with bleach once without any drastic consequences, it could be hazardous and harmful to your floors. Bleach can break down through the protective layer of the hardwood floor and reach into the porous fibers. Once bleach reaches the core of your hardwood floors, it can weaken the hardwood significantly and even cause discoloration.

Potentially Harmful Effects of Using Bleach on Your Hardwood Floors

Weakened structure

When bleach reaches into the porous layers of wood, it can break the bonds in the plant-based compounds and cause the wood to become weak, risking its structural integrity. This will eventually lead to splinters in your hardwood floors. Because of how bleach affects hardwood, it is advised not to use it on structures such as hardwood stairs, outdoor decks, and floors.


Bleach contains a substance called sodium hypochlorite, which kills viruses, bacteria, and mold. While this substance is the main ingredient that makes bleach suitable for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, it also affects coloring. When bleach comes into contact with porous surfaces, it can drastically affect them at a molecular level and change their composition and how they reflect light. This can significantly affect hardwood floors that have a dark stain.

engineered hardwood flooring
Image Credit: Ingo Bartussek, Shutterstock

Alternative Methods for Deep Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Since bleach is so risky to use on hardwood floors and is bad for the environment, there are some alternative options that you could try. Your hardwood floors require gentle care, although they may need a deep cleaning once in a while. Deep cleaning of hardwood floors is recommended every few months and is much more thorough than surface cleaning.

  • Begin with a dry mop or broom to remove any dust or surface-level dirt.
  • With a microfiber pad and a bit of water, go over the areas you have cleaned previously.
  • Apply your desired floor cleaner to problematic areas, preferably a commercial-grade floor cleaner.
  • Clean the spaces between boards with a putty knife, and make sure to remove all the excess grime or dirt.
  • Mop the floor with a mop pad and a floor cleaner in the direction of the floorboards.
  • Work in small sections and change pads often to have the best results.
  • Ensure the room has enough air circulation for the floors to dry quickly enough.

When Is It Okay To Use Bleach On Hardwood Floors?

Even though it is not advisable to clean hardwood floors with bleach, some types of hardwood can be bleached for various reasons. If you have discolored floors or patchy sunlight stains, you can fix this by carefully bleaching your entire wood floor. When doing this project, you must be incredibly careful not to ruin your floors. This is an easy way to fix discoloration or water stains on your floor, but there are a few restrictions.

There are some types of wood flooring that you cannot bleach, such as white oak, Brazilian cherry, mahogany, and other exotic species. Some types of hardwood that are common for flooring and okay for bleaching are red oak, ash, and beech.

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Final Thoughts

If you were wondering if bleach is okay to use on your hardwood floors, we hope to have helped give you an answer to that question. Bleach is a hazardous chemical and there are much safer alternatives to deep cleaning your floors. Bleach is acceptable in some circumstances when you want to remove staining or discoloration, but for disinfection, there are much safer solutions available.

Featured Image Credit: CapturePB, Shutterstock


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